Businesses can be fined under mask ordinance

NOW: Businesses can be fined under mask ordinance

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind.-- Last Tuesday the St. Joseph County Council voted 8-1 in approval of an updated mask ordinance, and today, the Board of Commissioners met to make the final decision, voting 2-1 in agreement to the ordinance.

Under the mask ordinance, businesses who do not comply or refuse to wear face coverings can be fined $50-$250 by the health department. The Health Department will only visit a place of business if they are called or receive a complaint that an employee or employees are not wearing a mask, or if there is not proper signage to signal people to wear one.

“The pandemic is causing great harm to our county, to the people of our county and significant morbidity and mortality within our county,” St. Joseph County Health Officer Dr. Robert Einterz said. “There are relatively few steps to stop the spread of this virus. One of the major and main steps that can be taken are face coverings.”

Around 20 community members joined into the meeting virtually to voice their comments and concerns, many of them sharing very strong differences.

“The science is the science and Dr. Bob says, masks do work whether or not we think they do or not whether or not,” one community member said.

“Still health officials are telling us to ignore the data in front of our eyes. They’re telling us masks will work, even though we can see quite clearly that they don’t,” another community member said.

Even the members of the Board of Commissioners disagree

“If we’re slow and lazy about solving this problem. The problem is going to drag on longer and longer and cause more pain and grief on people. We’ve got to pull the band-aid off fast, follow the rules and be respectful of each other,” board member David Thomas said. “Everybody honestly knows whether they’ll admit it or not that masks save lives.”

“It’s not that I don’t think our Heath department should be helping our citizens stay healthy and everything. But again, I’m not sure it’s appropriate for us to pass an ordinance to move forward with forcing people to wear the masks like that. I think they could recommend it. And again, I don’t think it’s good that we’re going to fine businesses,” board member Deborah Fleming said.

The mask ordinance is effective once proper promotions have been made about it. The next plan to meet to sunset the ordinance is in April of 2021.

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